ANAHEIM, CA – The last time Shelby Miller took the mound before Wednesday night, he was unable to make it out of the second inning. Against the Angels, Miller was on the other end of a similar situation as the Cardinals collected five hits and four walks on the way to a seven run second inning before going on to beat the Halos 12-2 in front of 35,025 fans at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
“It’s good to get back on the winning side,” Miller said. “We have been struggling a little bit lately and especially me in my last couple of starts so it was good to get a win. It’s always good to get a win and hopefully we get rolling and get back into first place.”
Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny was pleased with the way his club preformed.
“A lot of good things happened today,” Matheny said. “With Shelby (Miller) getting back on the horse and making some real good pitches, I know he made some minor adjustments that made things really fall in place and feel right, so it as a big day for him and for all of us. Then we have the big inning there in the second and keep them coming through the rest of the day, it is something that they can set the tone for what is to come.”
The second inning started off with Allen Craig working a nine pitch walk. Yadier Molina needed just two pitches to reach on a single before Matt Adams worked and eight pitch walk to load the bases.
David Freese grounded out to third for the first out, but Craig was able to score on the play. Daniel Descalso then doubled down the right field line to clear the bases and put St. Louis up 3-0.
After Pete Kozma struck out for the second out, Matt Carpenter singled in Descalso and then scored himself on Jon Jay’s home run to center.
Jay’s homer was caught over the fence by Angels’ centerfielder Mike Trout, but Trout was unable to hold on to the ball and it fell out of his glove.
“He did catch it and it got knocked out,” Jay said. “I knew when I saw him going after it, it had to go over his head or it was going to get caught. (Trout) made a great play on it and I got lucky and it bounced out of his glove.”
Following a pair of walks to Carlos Beltran and the second free pass of the inning to Craig, the Angels brought in a new pitcher. But even with the new arm on the hill, it didn’t matter as Molina collected his second single of the inning to score Beltran and give the Redbirds a 7-0 lead.
“That is just what our offense does,” Miller said. “They go out there and put up runs and they do damage. It’s good to kind of get a cushion, but at the same time you have got to still act like it is a 0-0 ball game and don’t lose too much focus. … It’s amazing what our offense can do.”
When the inning was all said and done, the Cardinals had sent 12 men to the plate.
“Obviously having runners on base is key,” Carpenter said. “Trying to get that train moving and getting guys up there and driving in those big runs, that is what we do well. When we get those guys in scoring position we have been able to drive them in and today was a good example of that.”
Miller got two quick outs on six pitches in the bottom of the second, but he then walked Alberto Callaspo in front of Hank Conger who hit a blast to right field that was gone as soon as contact as made.
“I went and gave up two runs right after that (seven run outburst),” Miller said. “It was a mistake curveball that I just hung. That was one of the mistakes that they got tonight.”
St. Louis (50-33) got one run back in the third. Freese and Descalso both singled to open the third. Freese moved to third on Kozma’s double play ground out and scored when Carpenter reached on an error by the Halos pitcher while covering first base.
St. Louis added another run in the fifth when Carpenter drilled a pitch down the right field line that bounced in front and then over the right field wall. Carpenter advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jay.
In the seventh, with two out, Carpenter launched his seventh home run of the season to right field to put the Redbirds up 11-2. The run was the 63rd of the season for Carpenter who trails Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies by one for the National League lead.
St. Louis started subbing in bench players in the bottom of the seventh. Shane Robinson led off the eighth and walked. After pinch hitting Ty Wiggington struck out, Molina singled. Adams then followed with his first hit of the day to drive in Robinson. Tony Cruz pinch hit for Freese and flied out to center before Descalso was retired on a great diving catch by Colin Cowgill to end the inning.
Miller went six full innings and threw 102 pitches. He struck out six and walked two. The only runs Miller gave up came off the second inning homer he allowed following a two-out walk. With the victory, Miller picked up his National League rookie leading ninth win of the season.
“I have been struggling with command lately and leaving the ball over the plate,” Miller said. “Tonight I felt like I was on the corners, not the whole game, but more so than I have been. … I felt like tonight my fastball command was better and I felt like my curveball was sharper. I just made that one mistake to Conger.”
Every Cardinal starting batter reached base at least once and scored a run with the exception of Kozma who never reached base. St. Louis pounded out 13 hits and left eight runners on base.
“We did a good job being aggressive and having competitive at bats,” Carpenter said. “Making the pitchers work and getting in hitters counts, we were able to lay off of some of those borderline pitches and get some good counts and put some good swings on some at bats.”
Carpenter finished the night 3-for-6. He scored three times and drove in three while coming up a triple shy of the cycle.
“Being the leadoff guy, my job is to get on there and let those big guys behind me drive me in,” Carpenter said. “I had a couple opportunities to drive in some runs and in the leadoff spot you don’t get a ton of RBI chances, but when you do, you want to take advantage of them and I was able to do that.”
Carpenter didn’t realize he was a triple shy of the cycle until he was in the on deck circle for his final at bat.
“I did not realize it until I was on deck,” Carpenter said. “That’s when I realized. I wouldn’t say I was eyeing it, but if I hit a ball into the gap you know I was going to try and go for three.”
Carpenter flew out to center field in his final at bat.
Matheny spoke highly of his teams’ leadoff hitter.
“Matt Carpenter sets the tone for us,” Matheny said. “Matt had a terrific day. He put together good at bats all day. He doesn’t give any away.”
Jay was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and one run scored while Craig reached base four times, but was 1-for-1 as he drew two walks and was hit by a pitch. Descalso was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored and was hit by a pitch while Molina was 3-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI.
“Jon Jay, it was real nice to see some real nice at bats and a couple of hard outs there as well,” Matheny said. “We need to get him going and today was a real good indicator that he is on the right path.”
Aside from Kozma who failed to contribute, Beltran and Craig were the only other Cardinal hitter to start the game and not drive in a run.
“Today was a good all-round game,” Carpenter said. “We played some good defense, we had good starting pitching, we drove in some runs, and really, we had a kind of little hit parade there. It was a really good complete game for us.”
Former Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols has gone 0-for-7 with a walk in his first two games against his former team. Pujols has struck out three times, twice on Tuesday and once on Wednesday for the Angels (40-44). St. Louis pitchers retired Pujols in all four plate appearances Wednesday night.
The Cardinals will send ace Adam Wainwright to the mound today against Joe Blanton as St. Louis looks to claim its first series win over an American League West opponent this year. First pitch will be at 8:05 p.m., one hour earlier than regular for the 4th of July holiday.